Just like every other five year old tomboy, I loved frogs… especially the baby ones. And in my town, after it rained, momma frogs and baby frogs were everywhere. As soon as the downpour was tamed into a light sprinkle… my brother, sister and I couldn’t get outside fast enough to search for baby frogs. The big frogs were ok, but it was the teeny tiny baby frogs that we were after.
So now I know what you’re thinking, what in the heck does this have to do with sales? Well, I’ll tell you.
During the rainy season, the frog population in my yard reached an all-time high. And the truth is, while it’s fun at first, the appeal of playing with frogs starts to lose its luster when you realize all they want to do is get away from you. And since you can only chase a frog for so long, one has to decide—what else can you do with so many frogs? That’s when I decided to get into the sales business. I decided to sell them! After all, we had a surplus of frogs in my yard, so inventory was definitely not a problem. Plus, I genuinely believed that all my neighbors REALLY needed frogs in their yard too!
And because ALL the frogs seemed to be in my yard, it occurred to me that my neighbors probably didn’t have any. This clearly meant that the high concentration of frogs in my yard represented an unbalanced ecosystem in my neighborhood. I became determined to solve this environmental problem.
I approached this job just as any other five year old would. I first gathered all the frogs I could and placed them into a large grocery store paper bag. This was before plastic was an option. But don’t worry; before placing the frogs in the bag, I created a natural habitat by placing rocks, dirt, leaves and grass on the bottom of the bag. It was important that the frogs felt comfortable during our door-to-door sales adventure.
With a paper bag full of momma frogs and baby frogs, following is the process I followed to effectively sell my inventory:
1st—FIND and IDENTIFY my prospects. Keep in mind, I was five years old, growing up during the time where we played outside ‘til it got dark and drank from a water hose. It was a different world back then. Needless to say, I realized that my ideal prospects had to fit the following criteria:
1) Location mattered. They had to be within walking distance from my house… so that meant about 10 houses to left or right.
2) Access to the decision maker. They needed to have at least one car in the driveway… because that meant an adult was home.
3) Good fit. They needed to have a plush yard that had a shortage of frogs.
2nd—I strategized my APPROACH. Like all five year old loquacious little girls, I decided that the best way to start the process was to just ring the doorbell and ask for what I wanted. I politely asked for 5-minutes of their undivided attention. Little did I know, I was actually contracting with my prospects to ensure we had a good meeting.
3rd—We worked together to DEFINE their problem and our neighborhood problem. We clearly had an unbalanced ecosystem in our neighborhood because ALL the frogs were in my yard. And because we all know that frogs eat bugs, if there were no frogs in their yard (because they were all in mine), it was also likely they had a pretty big bug problem.
4th—Together we came to the conclusion that more frogs in their yard would SOLVE their excessive bug problem AND balance out our neighborhood ecosystem.
5th—After collaborating with my prospect on the solution to their bug problem, and the issue of the unbalanced ecosystem in our neighborhood, it made it very easy to PROPOSE my offering, and ask for the order. I sold each momma frog for 25 cents and each baby frog for 10 cents. And to increase my value proposition, I always included a few rocks from my yard to make the transition easy for the frogs. I wanted their new home to feel familiar.
6th—With my frogs in tow, I was able to DELIVER and implement the solution immediately. Typically, I patiently waited on the front door step for my prospect to get their wallet and pay for the frogs. After I received the money, I would place the frogs in their new habitat with a few familiar rocks from my yard. I would then observe their behavior for a couple of minutes to make sure they were comfortable, and then I would make my way to the next house that had a plush yard and car in the driveway.
At The Center for Sales Strategy, our sales process is pretty much the same. We teach our clients the same interactive sales process that I used to sell frogs when I was five years old:
FIND: Build a list of potential prospects, both brand new and among existing clients.
SELECT: Filter your list and narrow it down.
APPROACH: Preheat your approach; secure the appointment then contract to ensure it’s a good one.
DEFINE: Nail down the prospect's real needs.
SOLVE: Work collaboratively with the prospect to tailor the best possible solution.
CONFIRM: Finalize the plan as soon as the prospect is ready to buy.
DELIVER: Implement the solution, monitor performance and ensure value.
Steve Marx, the Founder of CSS has said “… the one thing I have heard from clients for 25 years… the one thing they want to grab me and talk to me about… what makes our stuff unique is that it makes so much sense… people like using the practices we recommend because they’re not weird and they’re not embarrassing…”
For a five year old little girl selling frogs door-to-door, this sales process was not weird or embarrassing… it was actually pretty natural. It’s amazing how adults often have to relearn behaviors that were natural when they were children. I have three little boys, and the way they approach the “sales process” when they want me to buy them the newest Star Wars Lego set is comical, I think mostly because of their simple, matter-of-fact, common sense approach. Needless to say, we have a lot of Legos in our house!
For a glimpse at our selling process, download How Selling Steps.
Demrie Henry is a Performance Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.